Saturday, October 29, 2011

The REAL Damage to Be Done

So Michael Moore tells Anderson Cooper THIS:-

This movement is so beyond just, hey, let’s get behind this candidate, get them elected to office. Those days are over. You know, we’ve all worked for candidates. We’ve all voted. We’ve all participated. And what have we gotten out of it? We’ve all written to our Congressmen and women, please pass House bill number 3428. What did we get? Where are we? We’re in the worst shape we have been in this country that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. And, and so, this movement is not right now concerned with candidates or specific bills in Congress.

Get the picture? Get the message?

Bill Maher started the meme over a month ago. We've even had Joan Walsh present Occupy Atlanta's fifteen-minute-famer Joe Diaz spouting the same.

It's the meme of the minute, people, the message various celebrity voices purporting to message for the Occupy protesters to the media and to the public:

Don't Vote. It's not worth it.

Earlier this month, writing in The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky ruminated on the need of the OWS movement to take a leaf from the Tea Party's book and appropriate middle America, not just with their message, but also with the sort of spokesperson that resonates with ordinary people:-

I beg, plead, implore, importune: Get some spokespeople out there for the cause who are just regular Americans. Don’t send Van Jones out there to be the public face of this movement. I happen to have a high opinion of Van Jones personally. He’s dedicated his life to justice in a higher-stakes way than I have. But any movement that is led by someone who was forced to resign from the White House and who signed a 9/11 truther petition will be dismissed by the mainstream media as left-wing and elitist in three seconds. You may like that or not like that, but it’s true.

The genius of the Tea Party movement lies entirely in the fact that its public faces were, by and large, regular Americans. How many stories did we all read about the homemaker from Wilkes-Barre and the IT guy from Dubuque who’d never been involved in politics in their lives and never thought they would be until the Tea Party came along? These people resonate with other Americans: “She’s my neighbor; he’s just like me.” That gave the Tea Party movement incredible force and made the media take it seriously, and making the media take you seriously is, alas, at least half the battle in our age.

The OWS movement is part of the way there. The “We Are the 99 Percent” trope is powerful. It is true. But the movement has to prove that it really is the 99 percent. It has to win middle America, and the way to win middle America is to be middle America. For all the Seattle-ish longhairs down in Zucotti Park—whom the mainstream media and the right wing will undoubtedly highlight—there are, to be sure, homemakers in Wilkes-Barre and IT guys in Dubuque who sympathize. Find them. Put them out there. Get them on cable.

People have been quick to criticize any politician who sought to appropriate the movement for electoral purposes, and - rightly - so have the protesters. There have even been instances when the protesters have handed celebrity talking heads their asses for such attempted appropriation, undertaken for ego purposes and professional publicity.


But it seems more and more this week that the biggest celebrity ego of them all has appropriated the Occupy movement and has appointed himself as their self-styled spokesman. Like the Pope with his flock, Michael Moore has literally gone coast to coast to impose himself as the soul of the Occupy Wall Street movement. He's even gone global in an interview with the lighter end of the BBC (Richard Bacon is a former children's television presenter who lost his job for awhile when he was found snorting coke before a broadcast), calling the President's first term "heartbreaking" and a "disappointment" and linking the President to Wall Street, itself.

It would appear that OWS has found its spokesman, or rather, he's found them.

But, people, Michael Moore isn't middle America. He certainly isn't working class America, and he's left middle class America behind. It's no coincidence that Moore just happens to have a book to plug as he meanders around whichever Occupy movement seems to be garnering the most television coverage at the moment.

A lot of these people in these protests were just kids when Moore trawled the country eleven years ago, imploring people to vote for Ralph Nader, instead of Al Gore or George Bush. So many people listened, and their listening contributed to where we find ourselves today. A lot of these people are too young or if they're not, they choose not to remember that the Wall Street brigade could do what they did remorselessly and without compunction because the lessening of the legal regulations surrounding financial services allowed them to do so - specifically, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which was effected by the last Democratic President. A lot of those people, too, either refuse to acknowledge or really don't realise that 30 years of damage cannot be undone in less than four.

Read some history. The entire decade of the 1930s was one big depression, from which we only emerged upon the creation of that infamous military-industrial complex, effected by none other than that saint, FDR, and some of his actual corporate cronies. Seriously.

So this is the message Moore and co are seeking to propagate in the weeks and months approaching November 2012 - it's not worth voting - knowing that the last time the youth vote factored heavily in the election of Barack Obama, knowing that low voter turnout normally means a Republican victory.

Meanwhile, responsible journalists at Al-Jazeera are focusing on what should be perturbing Liberals and Progressives and their self-appointed Professional Left celebrity talking wonks (or wanks).

Charles and David Koch are each worth about $25bn, which makes them the fourth richest Americans. When you combine their fortunes, they are the third wealthiest people in the world. Radical libertarians who use their money to oppose government and virtually all regulation as interference with the free market, the Kochs are in a class of their own as players on the American political stage. Their web of influence in the US stretches from state capitals to the halls of congress in Washington DC.

The Koch brothers fueled the conservative Tea Party movement that vigorously opposes Barack Obama, the US president. They fund efforts to derail action on global warming, and support politicians who object to raising taxes on corporations or the wealthy to help fix America’s fiscal problems. According to New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, who wrote a groundbreaking exposé of the Kochs in 2010, they have built a top to bottom operation to shape public policy that has been "incredibly effective. They are so rich that their pockets are almost bottomless, and they can keep pouring money into this whole process".

Koch industries, the second largest privately-held company in the US, is an oil refining, chemical, paper products and financial services company with revenues of a $100bn a year. Virtually every American household has some Koch product - from paper towels and lumber, to Stainmaster carpet and Lycra in sports clothes, to gasoline for cars. The Koch’s political philosophy of rolling back environmental and financial regulations is also beneficial to their business interests.

The Kochs rarely talk to the press, and conduct their affairs behind closed doors. But at a secret meeting of conservative activists and funders the Kochs held in Vail, Colorado this past summer, someone made undercover recordings. One caught Charles Koch urging participants to dig deep into their pockets to defeat Obama. "This is the mother of all wars we've got in the next 18 months," he says, "for the life or death of this country." He called out the names of 31 people at the Vail meeting who each contributed more than $1m over the past 12 months.

Did you get that, folks? The next election will be for the "life and death of this country." Nothing more and certainly nothing less. If that phrase and the identity of the person who said it doesn't send a chill down a Democrat's spine, nothing else will, and you shouldn't be calling yourself a Democrat. As the President, himself, said recently, the last election was about hope and change, and this one is about reality.

If you don't believe that, then you'd best find a foxhole. As is stated above, Koch Industries reaches into all our homes and touches all our daily lives. They're in the car we drive and the paper towel we use to wipe up spilled milk. They also own the conservative members of the Supreme Court, which currently leans Right by a five-to-four margin. At least one justice will retire during the next Administration. A President Perry or a President Romney would ensure that the skew is six-three, and then the body would systematically carry out an agenda of declaring years of progressive reform unconstitutional, amongst the actions, overturning Roe v Wade.

But that isn't all the Kochs are doing:-

The Kochs founded and provide millions to Americans for Prosperity, a political organisation that builds grassroots support for conservative causes and candidates. Americans for Prosperity, which has 33 state chapters and claims to have about two million members, has close ties to Tea Party groups and played a key role in opposing Obama's health care initiative.

This year, Americans for Prosperity spent at least half a million dollars supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to cut social spending and roll back collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. The legislation passed by Walker makes it more difficult for unions, which are major backers of Democratic candidates, to secure funds for political purposes. Americans for Prosperity is also very active in a battle against unions in Ohio, another important 2012 presidential state. Its president, Tim Phillips, says that the organisation is winning in Wisconsin and around the country "because on the policies of economic freedom, we're right". He refused to tell People & Power reporter Bob Abeshouse how much the organisation is spending to combat the unions.


The Kochs contributed to 62 of the 87 new members of the US House of Representatives in 2010. Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the Kochs supported have taken the lead in opposing US Environmental Protection Agency efforts to reduce global warming emissions. Other members backed by the Kochs belong to the right-wing Tea Party bloc that took the US to the brink of default in July by refusing to consider a budget deal that would include tax increases.

In 2012, many believe that President Obama can raise a billion dollars for the presidential race, and break all fundraising records. But as Lee Fang of the Center for American Progress tells reporter Bob Abeshouse, in the end it may not matter "because the Koch brothers alone increased their wealth by $11bn in the last two years".

The Kochs are buying up the country from within. They're making sure that they own the Republican Party in order to ensure it does the Kochs' business and promotes their ideals as America's ideals. To cement this further, they're even making hefty contributions to various universities, always with the stipulation that the beneficiaries teach the selfsame economic libertarian philosophy which the Brothers Koch hold dear.

That is what should be scaring the beejebus out of Liberals. That is what should be keeping them awake at night.

Not the fact that Bill Daley sought to tell some ugly home truths about the Congressional Democrats and this Administration - that whilst the GOP has caused the most trouble and strife in opposing the Obama Adminstration (technically what they're supposed to do), there have been more than a few Congressional Democrats and cohorts who have been far more openly vocal against this President than they ever were against Bill Clinton.

People like the usual suspects - Joe Lieberman, Joe Manchin, Ben Nelson, Jon Tester, and Mary Landrieu. People like Bernie Sanders, who filibustered what he perceived to be the President's caving to the Republicans on the Bush tax cuts, without ever thinking like the Socialist he proclaims to be and recognizing that the compromise achieved scores of benefits for the poor, the working poor and the unemployed. The most bizarre spectacle of December 2010 was watching the momentarily born-again Progressive and Louisiana oil-company-purchased Mary Landrieu, helping Sanders with his filibuster, not out of any sense of betrayal on the tax cuts, but moreso as a protest to the President's moratorium on offshore drilling after the BP crisis.

Politics does make strange bedfellows.

Or people like Peter "Fuck the President" de Fazio and Dennis "Impeach the President" Kucinich, both of whom want the President primaried. I guess they find life amongst the political opposition too easy. Or maybe such posturing on Kucinich's part masks the fact that he's too cozy with various Middle Eastern despots, himself. Or people like Claire McCaskill, who wasn't too good to ride Obama's coattails in 2008, but is distancing herself from him now for fear of catching a case of political cooties.

So let's all concentrate on Bill Daley's remarks, never once thinking about how much and how often our Professional Left betters have made hay criticizing everything about this President to the point that for someone who's a genuinely independent voter, they'd be put off voting for Obama for dogcatcher, much less President. Nice work and they got it!

Let's all do that then, shall we? Part of us bicker amongst ourselves whilst the rest of us listen to Moore or Maher or Joe the Bummer Diaz and sit out the vote. And then maybe we'll be stupid enough to rally around these celebrities who just - oh, they just love the little people to bits, because when the big bad GOPers are in office, and Phil Gramm or Paul Ryan is running the Treasury, when Medicare and Social Security are distant memories and the minimum wage is gone and public education is going, maybe they will speak for us again - if they're not speaking for the winning side.

They say the plebeian pragmatists are divisive. I say a fish stinks from its head.

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